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Stephen Fry, Emily Atack and Russell Tovey to take part in charity radio play

Stephen Fry, Emily Atack and Russell Tovey will star in the two-part production (PA)
Stephen Fry, Emily Atack and Russell Tovey will star in the two-part production (PA)

Stephen Fry, Emily Atack and Russell Tovey are among the stars taking part in a new radio play to raise money for the theatre industry dealing with the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

The cast and creative team of The Understudy by Henry Filloux-Bennett, based on the best-selling novel by David Nicholls, will take part in the recording in isolation and actors will record their lines at home before they are compiled by a remote sound design team.

Mina Anwar, Layton Williams, Sheila Atim and Sarah Hadland will also take part in the project, which will see The Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield split proceeds with Theatre Development Trust (SOLT and UK Theatre), Acting for Others and Equity Charitable Trust.

Newport Beach Film Festival UK Honours – London
Sheila Atim will also take part (David Parry/PA)

The public will be able to tune in to listen to the play, which was originally commissioned by The Lowry as a stage adaptation, by buying a ticket, the funds from which will go to help individuals and organisations struggling because of coronavirus.

The Understudy tells the story of failed husband, failing father and failing actor Stephen McQueen, who is going to be understudying film star Josh Harper in the brand-new show Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know.

Fry said: “I am just so delighted to be working on Henry Filloux-Bennett’s superb adaptation of David Nicholls’ The Understudy. I do hope lots of you will listen in and combine a good time with support for our wonderful theatre industry.”

Nicholls added: “I’ve always had soft spot for The Understudy and was hugely excited to see it come to life on a new online stage, and with such a great team.

Letters Live series – London
David Nicholls (Anthony Devlin/PA)

“So much is changing at such speed, and I’m full of admiration for the way it’s now being reimagined. I can’t wait.”

A spokesperson for SOLT and UK Theatre said: “We welcome this initiative and are delighted that money raised will be donated to support theatres across the country – particularly outside London where the industry needs it most. It has never been more vital that our industry pulls together, and it is fantastic to see artists and performers using creativity and ingenuity to help support the theatre workforce through this difficult time.”

The first part of The Understudy will be released on May 20 and part two will be released on May 27. More information is available at www.understudyplay.com.

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